4 weeks on, no sign Spanish volcano eruption is close to end

MADRID (AP) — There is no sign that a volcanic eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma is coming to an end, four weeks after it began, officials said Sunday.

The volcano on one of the Canary Islands off northwest Africa has so far destroyed more than 1,800 buildings, mostly homes, though prompt evacuations have helped avoid casualties on the island of some 85,000 people.

Canary Islands President Ángel Víctor Torres said scientists monitoring the eruption that began Sept. 19 have seen no indications that the eruption is abating, as rivers of lava continue flowing slowly toward the sea.

“We are at the mercy of the volcano,” Torres told reporters. “It’s the only one who can decide when this ends.”

Some 7,000 people have had to leave their homes.

The volcano has produced a constant rumble and roar, with dozens of minor earthquakes most days, and has covered a wide area with volcanic ash. The ash plume is several kilometers (miles) high.

Airlines have sporadically canceled flights to the islands, including 56 flights over Saturday and Sunday, due to the ash.

The latest satellite imagery showed the molten rock has covered 754 hectares (almost 1,900 acres), most of it countryside and farm land.

Almost 60 kilometers (37 miles) of roads have also been ruined.

The island lives mainly from tourism and banana plantations. The government has pledged millions of euros (dollars) to help rebuild damaged infrastructure.

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